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August 5, 2003


SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) will take action on two major policy items at its August 12 meeting at Chicago State University; one addressing recommended steps to improve faculty diversity throughout Illinois higher education, the other an action plan to protect Illinois' standing as an affordable place to go to college. Their agenda also includes a preview of issues impacting fiscal year 2005 budget development for Illinois higher education and draft recommendations on health professions education programs.

Board members will vote on recommendations contained in Opportunities for Leadership: Strategies for Improving Faculty Diversity in Illinois Higher Education, the product of a study of minority representation on faculties. The study recommends steps to better develop pools of available minority candidates for faculty positions, to ensure that diversity is a central component of campus job searches, to create a welcoming climate for diverse groups, and to engage higher education leadership in promoting diversity as a key part of the campus mission.

Also on the agenda for the August 12 meeting is Board action on recommendations of the Committee on Affordability, a joint endeavor of the IBHE and Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and co-chaired by Board members Robert English and J. Robert Barr. The committee's recommendations include putting a priority on funding for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) as well as on maintaining a stable base of funding for public colleges and universities, expanding the Illinois Incentive for Access program to serve more low-income students, making a four-year graduation guarantee universal among public universities and initiating a two-year version for community colleges, strengthening high school graduation standards so students enter college ready for the academic rigors they encounter, increasing awareness of college costs for families and students, and creating a biennial "state-of-affordability report" to monitor financial needs.

Board members will also receive a preview of the context for developing budget recommendations for fiscal year 2005. The comprehensive report notes that "while it is still very early in the Board's fiscal year 2005 budget development process, it is clear that there will continue to be limited resources available, and many needs and budget pressures to be addressed." Several long-time Board priorities including maintaining and enhancing affordability and improving faculty and staff salary competitiveness, as well as emerging program needs and priorities will receive close attention as the Board develops its fiscal year 2005 budget recommendations - and considers the trade-offs involved - over the next few months.

Also on the agenda are the findings and recommendations of the Board's Committee on Health Professions Education Programs, led by Board Chairman James L. Kaplan. The committee's report concludes that, while current Board policies are adequate and should be maintained, some adjustments to Board priorities are necessary to reflect current and emerging statewide needs in the health professions. The recommendations include changes to the Health Services Education Grants Act (HSEGA) program administered by the Board, ensuring that these resources are targeted to those areas of highest need. The committee also recommends a regular review cycle for health professions policies and priorities as well as additional accountability measures for the HSEGA program.

The Board will meet at 9 a.m. in Room 102 of the Business and Health Sciences Building at Chicago State.


Don Sevener



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